Why You Should Be Measuring Your Pillows — and How to Do it Right

Do you wake up with a sore, stiff back or neck? This is a sign that you need to change your pillow. While skimming through options in sleep paraphernalia, people often overlook the importance of a correctly-sized pillow.

As far as a good night’s sleep is concerned, your pillow’s dimensions can make or break your resting hours. Pillows not only provide customized comfort but also support and align your back, neck and spine while sleeping.

If you’re sleeping with a worn-out pillow and scrunching it every night to get into a comfortable sleep position, this article is for you. We’ve provided you with a step-by-step guide on how to measure a pillow to help you find the right-sized pillow for your head.

Why Is Pillow Support So Crucial?

The human body is meticulously structured: each bone, muscle and curvature plays a role in providing us with the right kind of comfort necessary. Resting and restorative sleep helps your body heal from the postural challenges faced all day.

Your pillow plays an active role in ensuring that you get much-deserved sleep and can maintain your sleeping posture. Pillows can provide great benefits for your body, but they can also work against you if you use a wrong-sized pillow.

Pillows help keep the upper body aligned during sleep. This relieves pressure and counterbalances the body points.  

If your pillow fails to provide your upper body with the right kind of support, your neck and shoulders are propped at a wrong angle, causing strain on your body.

For instance, the human neck is curved forward which helps it sustain the head’s weight; maintaining this curve is key even when asleep. 

If you have a high pillow, your neck will lean abnormally either to the side or out front when you sleep on your back or side. This will strain your shoulder muscles. Similarly, if your pillow’s height is too low, it will also strain your neck muscles. 

How to Choose a Pillow Size

Selecting a pillow is a very subjective process that depends on what angle you like to sleep in, your upper body posture and your weight. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all as far as pillows are concerned. 

You’ll find different types of pillows with different fits, materials and sizes but the perfect pillow for you will be the one that best compliments your body. A standard-size pillow is most people’s first choice. That said, you’re free to choose a larger or a smaller one.

Your pillow’s height is an important factor in zeroing in on the correct pillow size. As a general rule of thumb, your pillow should maintain a height of at least four to six inches for spinal alignment. 

Also ensure that your pillow fits correctly into your pillow cover; stuffing a large pillow in a small cover will bobble the pillow’s height.

How to Measure a Pillow

Measuring a pillow poses several challenges, from using the wrong measuring equipment to inefficient measuring techniques. The guide below will provide you with practical steps to measure a pillow accurately:

Pick the Right Measuring Equipment

Your tools and equipment determine the accuracy of your pillow’s dimensions. A poor measuring tool will provide you with inaccurate measurements.

For a precise reading, we recommend that you use a firm tape measure instead of a fragile one, such as the tailors’ measuring tape. A steady tape makes dimensional reading much easier.

Stretch the Pillow Out to Get the Reading

Place the measuring tape on the ground or any flat surface. Stretch the pillow and hold it from corner to corner (from one side along its shape vertex to the other) in a way that you can see the measurement accurately.

Go for Approximate Figures

You’ll often find yourself noting measurements that are in decimals. Here, it’s convenient to just round off the numbers to the next whole number. For instance, if the measurement reads 14.4 or 14.6, go for 15. 

Doing so will provide adequate space for the pillow to be filled and seamed. 

You’ll also avoid inaccurate measurements, which would otherwise haunt you if you were to rely on accurate measurements. 

Lastly, you’ll be following the industry standard since most pillow manufactures have sizes in whole numbers, such as a 10” by 10” size.

What to Avoid

Avoid taking measurements from the center to the top, bottom, diagonally, transversely, or in any criss-cross manner. Measuring a pillow from side to side will give you the perfect overview of the entire pillow including its height and width.

When’s the Right Time to Change Your Pillow?

Assess the condition of your current pillow to know if it’s time to change it. If your pillow is about five to six years old, there’s a high chance that it’s not providing you with the support your body needs.

Usually, a bed pillow needs to be replaced every 18 months. That said, memory foam pillows can last up to three years. Natural pillows tend to last longer than synthetic ones. 

While it may initially seem like a fairly short lifespan, you’ll better understand the situation after crunching some numbers. For instance, you sleep for at least seven to eight hours every day, which is 2500 hours per year for two to three years for one pillow.

Consider changing your pillow in the following scenarios:

  • If your pillow isn’t providing you with a comfortable sleeping experience.
  • If you often wake up with a stiff or painful neck, back or shoulders, your pillow is unable to compliment your sleeping posture.
  • If your pillow induces sweating or has some sweat stains. This is important since a hefty portion of your pillow’s weight is due to the dust and organisms collected on it over time. This gives the pillow a bad odor or triggers allergies that can hamper your sleep.

Bottom Line

Now that you know how to measure a pillow correctly, it’s time to go out and buy the right size. A correctly sized pillow will give you a good night’s rest and a pain and strain-free morning. 

Individual comfort should be crucial once you know how to measure a pillow, and for determining the right pillow size. There’s no harm in trying out pillows of different sizes for a week to narrow down what works best for your body and sleeping posture.


Does sleeping position matter in choosing the pillow size?

While the right pillow size highly depends on an individual’s preferences, their sleeping position has an important say in it – it determines the amount of sleep your chosen pillow will be able to provide you.

What’s the appropriate pillow height for a back sleeper?  

For a back sleeper, the pillow needs to support their neck and head without propping the neck at an unnatural angle. Go for a medium-thick pillow which is neither too stuffed nor too flat.

Does pillow size matter?

Your health is closely related to the quality of sleep you get. Your body’s cervical alignment is crucial and your pillow must be such that it compliments your body. 

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top